How to communicate expectations in a relationship

HOME RELATIONSHIPS & FAMILYHow to Talk About Expectations When You Enter a New RelationshipBy: Kimberly LibyMore ArticlesResentment & Criticism in a RelationshipHow to Make

How to communicate expectations in a relationship

HOME RELATIONSHIPS & FAMILY

How to Talk About Expectations When You Enter a New RelationshipBy: Kimberly Liby

  1. Resentment & Criticism in a Relationship
  2. How to Make Whipping Cream With Milk
  3. How to Deal With a Demanding Girlfriend
  4. Boundaries & Expectations Exercises
  5. How to Respond to a Compliment From a Guy

Jim Arbogast/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Entering a relationship is similar to learning the rules of a game you've never played before. Each relationship is different. Individuals come with different expectations about what constitutes a lasting relationship. It is important to communicate your needs once you have established the relationship -- and as the relationship progresses.

Recognize Your Needs

Your needs in a relationship may be physical or emotional. Take time to think about it. What are your non-negotiable needs? What can't you do without in a relationship? Perhaps it is affection. Maybe you need a supportive partner. Write a list of qualities that you expect in a partner. If you are having trouble coming up with characteristics you desire in a partner, write down traits you find unacceptable. For example, you won't accept disrespect. Then, write down the opposing trait -- respect. Your partner must be respectful.

Set Boundaries

Successful communication begins with useful feedback. Share your feelings and fears, even if this feels outside the comfort zone, says marriage and family therapist intern, Emy Tafelski in her PsychCentral.com article, "Want A Healthier Relationship? It Starts At Home, With You!" Elaborate on your expectations by explaining how your partner's words or actions make you feel -- good or bad. By verbalizing your expectations, you are setting boundaries, informing your partner where you draw the line regarding what is appropriate and inappropriate.

Address Changing Expectations

When you find yourself angry or upset about something your partner said or did, recognize that your perceptions elicit those feelings. Additionally, as time goes by and your relationship grows, your expectations will inevitably change. Take that change as an opportunity to check in with your partner, recommends the University of Texas at Austin Counseling Center article, "Building a Healthy Relationship." Discuss changing expectations and goals.

Offer Positive Reinforcement

Always express gratitude and thank your partner for praiseworthy deeds. For example, you might say, "I appreciate how thoughtful and considerate you are, always putting my needs first. Thank you." This positive reinforcement will help you get more of the same behavior in the future. In his Psychology Today article, "If You Like Something, Say Something," psychologist Mark Sherman suggests couples don't use positive reinforcement enough. If you want to spend more time cuddling, say so. You can't get what you want if you never speak up.

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References

  • University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center: Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start
  • Psychology Today: If You Like Something, Say Something
  • Psych Central: Want A Healthier Relationship? It Starts At Home, With You!

Writer Bio

Kimberly Liby has been a content writer and editor since 2006, with articles in "944" magazine. She has written on a range of topics including cooking, health, current events, philosophy, psychology, career, education, writing and editing. Liby holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature with a writing minor from Arizona State University, and a Master of Science in psychology from the University of Phoenix.

Photo Credits

Jim Arbogast/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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